With Rene Rivera heading to the disabled list, the Mets decided to add right-handed pitcher Franlyn Kilome, the team’s ninth best prospect, to the major league roster. The Mets acquired the tall righty in the trade that sent Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies at the trade deadline in 2018, and assigned him to Double-A Binghamton where he finished out the season. Shortly after the season, Kilome underwent Tommy John Surgery, effectively ending his 2019 season before it started. Kilome will not only be attempting to make pitch in a competitive game for the first time in over a year, he will be doing it having never pitched above the Double-A level. Assuming his stuff has fully rebounded following his surgery, Kilome figures to contribute out of the bullpen for the Mets, although the health of the team’s pitching staff could potentially force him into starting before long.
Signed by the Phillies as an 18 year old for $40,000 in 2013, Kilome made his professional debut with the GCL Phillies the following season. He pitched reasonably well in the Gulf Coast League, posting a 3.12 ERA and 3.80 FIP with 25 strikeouts and 11 walks in 40.1 innings pitched. After spending all of 2015 in the New York Penn League, Kilome began his first season of full season ball in 2016 as a 21 year old with the Lakewood BlueClaws of the South Atlantic League. Kilome hit the ground running with the BlueClaws, and managed to pitch his way up prospect lists. Kilome posted a 3.85 ERA and 3.28 FIP in 114.2 innings pitched across 23 starts. Never a particularly big strikeout pitcher during his time at the short season levels, Kilome struck out more than a quarter of the hitters he faced, which was good for 10.20 strikeouts per nine innings. With the strikeouts came an uptick in walks, as Kilome walked almost four batters per nine innings. Walks would prove to be a lasting problem for Kilome, who sometimes has trouble keeping his big 6’ 6” frame in rhythm.
Kilome was promoted to the Clearwater Threshers of the Advanced-A Florida State League to start the 2017 season, and continued to pitch relatively well. He ended up posting a career best 2.59 ERA and a 3.54 FIP in 97.1 innings pitched across 19 starts before being promoted to the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils. While his run prevention numbers continued to be solid, Kilome struggled to command the strike zone, walking 3.42 batters per nine innings, and seeing his strikeout rate fall by a little over five percent. His performance prompted the Phillies to promote Kilome to the Eastern League towards the end of the 2017 season, and Kilome continued to hold his own despite struggling with his command. He posted a 3.64 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 29.2 innings, despite walking 4.55 batters per nine innings, and saw his strikeout rate fall to just 6.07 batters per nine innings.
The Phillies decided to send Kilome back to Double-A to start 2018, where he struggled to find his footing. Kilome’s command issues continued into 2018, with his walk rate staying steady at 4.50 batters per nine and his strikeout rate hovering at 7.02 batters per nine, and he no longer managed to keep his run prevention numbers in check. Kilome put up career highs with both a 4.24 ERA and a 4.33 FIP in 102 innings pitched for Reading. With an outside shot at a playoff spot, and perhaps partially a result of his struggles, the Phillies decided to trade Kilome to the Mets for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera on July 27, 2018.
The Mets kept Kilome in the Double-A Eastern League after the trade, and the righty managed to turn his season around with the Rumble Ponies. While he posted a 4.03 ERA in 38 innings, his FIP was much lower at 3.17, and he struck out 9.95 batters per nine. Perhaps most encouragingly, Kilome managed to keep his walks to a minimum, walking just 2.37 batters per nine innings. Kilome’s strong performance after the trade caused speculation that he could end up contributing to the Mets pitching staff at some point in the 2019 season. That speculation would prove to be shortlived, as Kilome underwent Tommy John Surgery following the 2018 season, effectively ending his 2019 campaign before it began.
Kilome will enter the 2020 season having not pitched in a competitive game since September 2, 2018, having had his surgery on October 25, 2018. While we don’t know what Kilome’s stuff will look like after his return, there’s potential for a pretty good two pitch arsenal that could play very well out of the bullpen. Kilome’s fastball sat in the mid to low 90s before Tommy John, and it’s not unreasonable to think he could touch higher in short bursts. Kilome complements his fastball with a very good curveball that sits in the high 70s to low 80s and features strong 12 to 6 movement. He occasionally mixes in a firm changeup in the low 80s, but the pitch definitely lags well behind the other two in terms of effectiveness. The combination of Kilome’s command struggles and lack of a third pitch would make him an ideal fit for a bullpen role, even if the Mets injury situation pushes him into the starting rotation before long.